(Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek) From left-to-right: Assistant Coach Tapukitea Fakaai’i’eki, captain Lusitania Koloa and goalkeeper Madison Tenifa

The Tonga squad for the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Fiji has been a hive of positivity in the lead up to the tournament.

Tonga is based in Nadi and play their Group A games in nearby Lautoka against Vanuatu, Samoa, and New Caledonia. They are considered underdogs by many but have a squad based entirely in Tonga that are optimistic they can make a strong impact at the tournament.

Captain Lusitania Koloa says they have high hopes.

“There is only one expectation for my team and that’s to win the cup and to take the cup to Tonga and enjoy it with our friends and families and all of Tonga.

“We have been practicing twice a day with no time for rest, we are here to fight for it, sacrifice our sleep and practice and understand each other.” Koloa added.

And she offered some words of inspiration for her teammates.

“Off the field we have to enjoy each other’s company, do some Tik-Tok but most of all we like to watch videos of Lionel Messi play and get some inspiration from him.”

Goalkeeper Madison Tenifa was equally positive coming into the tournament with one goal in mind.

“To be honest I have been waiting for this since the first time I started playing football and I am looking forward to the bond I have with my teammates to compete with other teams and winning this competition.”

“The truth is we have been having a good preparation, it’s been a tough week for us, for most of us it’s the first time to represent our country and I think everyone on our team is happy and prepared, we are ready,” Tenifa said.

“To our families back home in Tonga we are so happy to represent our country and thank you for the sacrifice,” she continued.

Assistant coach Tapukitea Fakaai’i’eki felt the tournament would be a wonderful opportunity for her team to showcase its talents.

“We are all prepared to be here and meet the other countries. It’s a good time for us to be in Fiji. Before we came to Fiji, we had a camp in Tonga. We have seven of our squad from the outer islands and the rest of the squad is from Nuku’alofa. The players support each other.” She said.

Echoing the thoughts of her captain and goalkeeper Fakaai’i’eki is confident of a strong showing.

“We hope to win, and we are trying our best and can’t wait for tomorrow and hope that we win our games.” She said.